Chris points out a provocative idea. No doubt I’m getting this wrong, I’ll need to read the paper (pdf). But the idea is that an animal’s problems with hyperbolic discounting are more severe for some goods v.s. others. Further the poor tend to live in circumstances where the goods most effected by the problem account for a large slice of their consumption. That smells a bit like a tautology to me, but yeah.
So this raise the idea that the rich have all their impulsive desires met, well before they get into serious money. Well serious money for them. For most of their money they then act in accordance with the more functional exponential discounting. It’s not that the rich are different from the poor, they are just luck enough to be able to pay the tax demanded by their inner dysfunctional investor.
Amusingly this implies that people have say a hundred units of stupid dysfunctional behaviors they will do if they can fund them. For example ruin their dinner with junk food rather than wait for the good meal. The poor get to do some subset of the stupid; but they run out money before their done. The rich get to do all 100 units and then move into the more rational game. So, the rich do more stupid than the poor. Ironically they then turn around and mutter – ‘Yeah, why are you doing those stupid things!”